For the last couple of years I’ve been singing the praises of Aaero. Ever since I saw it at EGX I knew that this was going to be a game that I loved, and when it came down to release day I was instantly hooked by the epic soundtrack, the intuitive yet challenging controls and level design and bright, vibrant visuals. My only complaint at the time was that for me it was a little short, as I was so addicted I pretty much beat everything the game had to offer over the course of a a couple of extended gaming sessions.
Into the start of 2018 to my surprise a DLC pack was announced, which changed up the musical offerings slightly and went down a more Drum&Bass route. This quelled my desire to play Aaero briefly, however I’ve still often gone back to the game and wished that there were even more tracks that I could play. Towards the end of July my prayers were answered when MadFellows announced the release date of the next DLC pack; Monstercat. Anyone who watches Monstercat’s channels will know they play some of the best Dubstep, EDM and electro tracks around so I was excited to see what songs would be coming next to Aaero. Sure enough MadFellows have delivered again as they’ve added three incredibly good (and varied) tracks that are just as good, if not better, than some of the songs featured originally.
For those who are unfamiliar with Aaero the premise is relatively simple. You control a ship and have to follow a musical ribbon that is positioned to flow in time with the song that is playing. As you progress you’ll encounter various enemy ships that need to be shot down, and if you time your shot to the beat of the music you’ll fire stronger and quicker shots. It might sound complicated reading about it but after just a few minutes of playing you’ll soon have the controls mastered.
This DLC brings three new songs from the Monstercat music label, and all of them are worthy additions. The first track you’ll play is Outsiders by Muzzy. As soon as you start you’ll notice that this level doesn’t quite start the same as any others you’ve previously encountered, as you barrel roll through the sky before actually encountering the first ribbon. From there the gameplay is pretty much what you would come to expect from Aaero; tight controls, eye wateringly colourful visuals and a damn good time for the next 3-4 minutes. There are a few new visual effects on this track that I really liked, in particular the flashes of lightning that synced with the beat and caused new parts of the level to simply appear in front of you. Describing it doesn’t do this justice, it is much better seen with your own eyes in motion.
Next up we have We Won’t Be Alone, by Feint. This track features something that was briefly seen in one level on the base game but hasn’t really been done again, and that is having to fly through structures that change as you fly towards them. They’re relatively simple to manoeuvre through but they add an extra layer of difficulty, especially on the harder difficulties as you’ll have to try and lock on and shoot static targets at the same time. While I love the song used for this the environment didn’t quite do it for me, compared to the futuristic skyline that is used for Outsiders. That being said, what is here still looks great and there are a couple of fiendishly well hidden secrets for players to find.
The last track of this DLC is Echoes of the Past, by Protostar. Interestingly this starts off with some enemies that don’t do quickly. It’s not quite a boss battle and reminded me a little of the wasp that you fight way back on one of the first tracks in the game, but it was still a welcome change of pace. This is definitely the hardest of the three tracks to master as the ribbon swoops, swirls, drops and loops its way around. As you get towards the end there are some slight variations on the ribbon use that we haven’t seen before. This time instead of one longer continuous piece it’s multiple smaller pieces that are positioned all around so you’ll need to be quick to keep your multiplier going.
I’ve mentioned the visuals above a couple of times, but I do want to briefly mention them again. I recently upgraded my gaming setup so I can play in 4k and Aaero was actually the first game I tested my new TV on, and it felt like my eyes were going to melt! Everything looks super sharp and I didn’t notice a single dropped frame in the entire time I played. Outsiders was my track of choice because I loved the futuristic skyline the track plays out over, because it looks so different from anything we’re really seen in Aaero.
The sound in Aaero is on point, every song used in this DLC is catchy and will be stuck in your head for long after you’ve finished playing. If you aren’t a fan of Dubstep then this isn’t likely to convert you but anyone else who enjoyed the original songs in Aaero is in for a treat.
Difficulty wise the Monstercat pack definitely felt easier than the 1000DaysWasted DLC that was released in January. I haven’t much in the past couple of months yet I still managed to pass almost every track first time, on every difficulty available. Saying that there is a lot of replayability due to the global leaderboards, if you are a competetive person (like I am) you’ll be pushing yourself to nail those tight looping turns and lock-on shots to ring a few extra points out to try and increase your position on the leaderboards. One thing that would be fun is the ability to download a ghost of the top players so you can see just how they set their high scores as some of them are incredible and it would be fun to see.